Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks for Downtown Fonthill & Summerfest

For decades residents have wanted an improved Downtown Fonthill. Ten year ago, some business owners and residents approached the Town with a vision for the Downtown and the Communities in Bloom Committee formed to clean-up the Town and collect funds for beautification.

Four years ago, just after I started serving as Mayor, I called a community meeting about how we could take action to improve our downtowns. During that meeting, concerned citizens formed the Downtown Beautification Committee to plan fa├žade improvements and other ways to breathe new life into Fonthill’s and Fenwick’s Downtowns. Eventually, the Committee became sanctioned by Town Council.

Over the years several residents served tirelessly on that committee, including: Gary Accursi, (Chair, representing the Pelham Business Association (PBA) and now Council), Acacia Ashick (Mayor's Youth Advisory Council (MYAC)), Todd Barber (PBA), Edie Basaraba (Communities in Bloom (CIB)), Emma Caldwell (MYAC), Elizabeth Carmichael (MYAC), Bea Clark (Pelham Active Transportation Committee), Sharon Cook (former Councillor), Joan Crowther (Citizen Representative), Patty Fagan (PBA), Andrew Gemel (MYAC), Andrea Johnson (Heritage Pelham Advisory Committee), Mary Lamb (Pelham Historical Society), Shirley Lazareth (CIB), Don Marr (CIB), Joe Mergl (CIB), Jenna Piunno (MYAC), Muriel Roden (Pelham Horticultural Society), Bill Sheldon (Citizen), Frank Sicoli (Citizen), and Craig Larmour (Town Staff).

Two years ago, the Downtown Beautification Committee worked with the community to develop design guidelines – the “look and feel” for developments in the Downtowns. At the same time, Council set aside funds to incent improvements for property owners. And, after the Town applied for stimulus infrastructure funding, the Federal and Provincial governments approved up to $850,000 each. The Niagara Region also provided $100,000 for streetscaping.

One year ago, the Town finalized the engineering design for the road, water, and streetscaping improvements and began construction. Council also approved the incentive program.

Six-months ago, another group of dedicated volunteers formed to organize a celebration at the end of construction. The Pelham Summerfest Committee included: Todd Barber (Chair), Gary Accursi (Council), Leigh Atherton (Zest), Cathy Berkhout-Bosse (ReMax), Bea Clark (Active Transportation Committee), Santa Cyopik (Communities in Bloom), Catherine King (Council), Paul Roode (Indulgence), David Watt (Zest), John Wink (PBA), Katie Thorpe and Vickie VanRavensway (Town Staff). Many, many more volunteers assisted them to create Summerfest.

On Saturday, July 23, we celebrated the official opening of a newly revitalized Downtown Fonthill with the First Annual Summerfest.

On behalf of Council, I appreciate the vision, dedication, and tremendous work by so many volunteers and staff to revitalize the downtown and celebrate a new beginning with Pelham Summerfest. Thank you and congratulations on a resounding and overwhelming success!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Celebrate Summerfest in a Revitalized Downtown Fonthill

As the construction nears completion, the celebration is about to begin.

Last week saw not only the installation of a crosswalk at Churchill, but also the planting of many of the trees in Downtown Fonthill. This week, the top layer of asphalt and most of the benches, gardens, and trees are to be finished south of Regional Road #20. And, the clock – donated by Communities In Bloom – will be installed.

You will recall that the pre-construction work – burying of the hydro lines and other utilities – began last spring. Construction began in earnest last July as the street from College to Regional Road #20 was dug up for new water and sewer lines. That work took until December, when the contractor poured curbs and added layer of asphalt.

Major work on the Northern side of Regional Road #20 to Broad Street began this spring. The contractor completed the underground work and is finishing the curbs, sidewalks, pavers, and other “streetscaping” features.

The major final, but much-needed piece to be completed is the traffic signal at #20 and Pelham Street. The Region will now upgrade the traffic signals and the contractor will rework the corner to be safer and better for pedestrians.

You will recall that the Federal and Provincial government contributed two-thirds of the construction costs. The Town is also using “Investing in Ontario” funding from the Provincial Government to pay for most of the costs for burying the utilities.

Admittedly, this construction has been very difficult for many Downtown Fonthill businesses.

That’s why I am so pleased that many business owners, the Town, members of service clubs and other residents have teamed up to host Summerfest this Saturday.

Summerfest – to be held from noon to midnight on July 23 – will celebrate the end of construction and the beginning of a newly revitalized Downtown Fonthill!

The festival’s events will include:
- Street Party Zone will include great music on a main stage, a beer garden, a zumba challenge, and venders;
- Active Lifestyle Zone will include a swim meet, a fun walk / run, a bike rodeo, and Nordic walking demos;
- X Zone will include an AMPfest youth band competition, a skate park and climbing wall, and an art contest;
- Kid’s Zone will include a bouncy gym jungle slide, Disney charactors, great games.

For complete information, please see

I deeply appreciate the many, committed volunteers who have organized Summerfest and the hundreds of sponsors! And, I invite you to come celebrate our newly revitalized Downtown Fonthill this Saturday!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Haist Street Substantially Complete

Like planned, the Canada Day Parade returned to the newly reconstructed Haist Street last week. It was wonderful to see the hundreds of families who gathered to celebrate Canada’s 144th Birthday on July 1st.

You will recall that, as one of Pelham’s most-used collector roads, the two kilometers of Haist Street from Canboro to Welland Road desperately required reconstruction.

The $5.7 million reconstruction included added-width for bicycles, sidewalks on both sides of the street, four raised crosswalks to calm the traffic, and a pedestrian-priority crossing signal in front of A.K. Wigg School. The replacement of the cast iron watermains has improved drinking water quality and system resiliency. The reconstruction eliminated the potential of road washouts and helps to protect the environment by replacing the wide ditches with an underground storm water system.

It is true that the work has taken nearly 20 months to complete. Council agreed to break the project into two phases so that we could take advantage of significant Federal and Provincial infrastructure stimulus funding that stipulated a certain “start date.”

That’s why the first phase began in November 2009 and included the sanitary sewer relocation near Welland Road. The high water table delayed completion until March 2010; the contractor needed to “de-water” the area before crews could replace the large sewers. I sympathize deeply with the residents who live directly in that area; their lives have been impacted by noise, dust, and considerable inconvenience for a long time.

The second phase began in April, 2010. You will recall that the contractor paved the base layer of asphalt in the section North of Pancake Lane (to Canboro Road) in late November 2010. Work on the section South of Pancake Lane (to Welland Road) was much more complicated, again, because of the high water table and the required “dewatering.” The contractor just paved the Southern half in June.

The remaining work includes completing the sodding, paving the top-coat of asphalt, cutting the road and installing the four raised cross-walks, assessing and fixing deficiencies, and planting trees.

I do also want you to know that Kelly Walsh, Director of Community & Infrastructure Services, assured Council at our June 27 meeting that the project was “tracking to tender” – i.e.: well-within the tendered amount agreed upon by Council.

Finally, with the project “substantially complete,” I acknowledge and deeply thank all area residents – most especially those living on Haist Street – for your patience, your flexibility, and your understanding.